Meet the man who might be the tallest in the UAE

Emirates Palace doorman Abdul Jabbar Fazal measures in at 230 centimetres

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No matter which mall he visits, Abdul Jabbar Fazal finds it impossible to shop in the UAE. A doorman at Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi for the past six months, he instead spends his hours — whether at work or when out and about — obliging people who request to have their pictures taken with him.

Fazal, you see, stands at 226 centimetres (seven feet and five inches) tall. For comparison, the Guinness World Record title for tallest man in the world is held by Sultan Kosen from Turkey, at 251cm.

“Sometimes, I spend three to four hours a day posing for pictures,” he tells The National. “More than 2,000 pictures are snapped every day.

“In 2009, Guinness World Records approached me. They came three times in one day and measured me. After that, they called me and said: 'You are the tallest [person] in the UAE and number three in the world,” says Fazal, 58. Whether or not he still holds the record, however, is unknown.

Finding the right fit

Abdul Jabbar Fazal greets guests at Emirates Palace. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

Another reason Fazal’s trips to the mall are unfruitful is because nothing fits his frame. “My clothes are sewn by a tailor in the UAE, but it is difficult to customise the right shoes for me here. I order my shoes from Croatia, where they are made just for me. The downside is, a pair takes two to five months to get here.”

Transportation presents its own set of obstacles. Fazal says the lack of head and leg room makes it impossible for him to drive or even fit into most cars.

“My father was a farmer. So I used to help him by driving the tractor back home, which is the only vehicle I can fit into, otherwise I cannot drive. It is even hard to ride a taxi. I take the bus back home, but I have to occupy two seats to feel comfortable.

Quote
The most important advantage of being tall is that people respect me a lot, thanks be to God
Abdul Jabbar Fazal, doorman, Emirates Palace

“It is also difficult to fly on a plane. I need to buy a business class ticket, which is expensive, but what can I do? An economy-class seat is almost impossible for me.”

Despite these inconveniences, Fazal maintains a sunny disposition and tries to find the silver lining in situations. “Sometimes, Emirates and Etihad upgrade me to business class, so I don’t have to pay from my pocket. I am also very grateful to the Emirates Palace management, as they provided me with a lengthy bed and mattress, which extends from here to there,” he says, laughing and pointing from one side to the other of the large restaurant in which we are sitting. “They provide me with everything I need. I’m happy.”

In the genes

Fazal reveals he is from a family of tall folk. His grandmother was as tall as he is and his son, who is aged 27, is almost 200cm tall, while he estimates his father stands between the two.

However, it was only at the age of 20 that Fazal hit a rapid growth spurt. “When I went to the doctors, they told me the spurt was caused by a high level of growth hormones in my brain. I only stopped growing at the age of 38.”

Basking in the glory

Abdul Jabbar Fazal spends much of his day posing for selfies. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

Fazal is basking in fame afforded to him thanks to his job at the hotel.

“When I open the car door for guests, they are surprised. They hop out and cry out excitedly: ‘Oh, wow! You're tall.’ Even when guests come together, they mostly ask to take individual and not group photos. I enjoy it because I am making guests happy.

“It is the same situation in malls. Shoppers want to take selfies with me, so I cannot buy anything. It doesn’t bother me, though. Let people enjoy and be happy. This makes me happy as well.

“Sometimes, children get scared when they see me, but I reassure them by speaking gently and trying to wipe away their fears. Most children are elated when they see me,” he says.

Fazal’s goal is to establish a charitable NGO with like-minded people and to help the needy around the world with clothing, food, home and shoes. “I'm busy at work now, but when I get free time, I'll do it, God willing.

“For the time being, I am looking for a soulmate to share my life with and enjoying spending time with my 26-year-old daughter, who is visiting the UAE,” says the door attendant, who has two children but lost his wife last year.

Standing tall

Abdul Jabbar Fazal sleeps on a customised bed and wears tailor-made clothes and shoes. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

Fazal firmly believes life is better when you’re tall. “The best practical advantages are being able to replace a broken light bulb or getting things from top shelves and other high places.

“The most important advantage is that people, and especially my colleagues at the palace, respect me a lot, thanks be to God.”

Updated: September 30, 2022, 10:50 AM
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